As everyone knows by now, the state's Human Rights Commission has done a terrible wrong. The story ran last Friday under the headline "State: It's Discrimination" (ABQ Journal - Subscription). We had other more pressing matters last week that prevented us from taking a look at what has to be one of the more frightening decisions we've seen from an appointed commission in some time.
It's not that we don't understand where this type of decision comes from... we do. In political circles there's tremendous pressure to grant certain groups super-rights. It's the same type of logic used to create "hate crime" legislation. In essence, government extends special protections not afforded to the general population to specific groups that claim and are recognized as societal victims.
In this case, a private photography business refused to sell their services to one of these specially protected and self-identified groups and told them why in an email.
The irony here is that Vanessa Willock the plaintiff in the matter, was attempting to hire Elane Huguenin of Elane Photography to photograph her commitment ceremony. In other words, Elane Photography was being hired to photograph a ceremony that was a public expression of Ms. Willock and her partner's beliefs. By all accounts Elane Huguenin refused to provide service based on her own beliefs.
Without going into the specifics of these two differing belief systems - which by the way don't matter in the least - the conflict that resulted in Ms Huguenin being ordered to pay for Ms. Willock's attorney's fees ($6,637.93) arose from conflicting belief systems. By ruling in favor of Ms. Willock the New Mexico Human "Rights" Commission chose in favor of a particular belief system.
One would ask if the commission would have ruled the same way if the photographer in question had specialized in commitment ceremonies and refused to photograph a traditional marriage or if a photographer specialized in Jewish weddings refused to do a Christian wedding.
The danger of the ruling is that it directly affects the right of a business to refuse service. When the state compels the service of a private person or business they are taking away their freedom not to work for someone else - a condition known as slavery.
The commission's ruling also manages to trample on a number of other rights such as freedom of association, speech, and religion. But who cares about the rights of someone who's not in a protected class?
By creating protected classes and granting groups "super-rights" we are establishing the exact type of governmental discrimination that commissions like the state Human Rights Commission were formed to end. This latest decision is a danger to every group, in every class because it takes away our freedom to say no.
The Piercing Truth
This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes